Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Maureen Rogers, County Whatever, Ireland

I have some friend in Ireland with whom I exchange Christmas greetings.

When I send their cards off, I am always a bit amused that a couple of them don’t have street addresses with numbers, let alone zip codes. The cards just sort of go to a neighborhood in their small towns, and somehow wend their way to the right household.

Still, when I put their cards in the mailbox, the addresses always strike me as odd and incomplete.

Like many parts of rural Ireland, the town [of Abbeyfeale, County Limerick]  doesn't use house numbers. Some addresses don't even carry street names. And unlike the rest of Europe and most of the industrialized world, Ireland also doesn't have postal codes—the equivalent of a ZIP Code in the U.S. (Source: WSJ Online)

In Abbeyfeale, despite the fact that there are several Patrick Murphys who live in the same ‘hood, mail has pretty much always made it’s way to the right Patrick Murphy.

The Abbeyfeale postman first delivered mail to the Patrick Murphy who had lived in the village the longest, and they worked it out from there.

"My neighbors would get it first," said Mr. Murphy [the relatively recent blow-in], 40 years old. "They'd have a good read, and they'd go, 'No it's probably not us.' "

Come next spring, Ireland will be implementing is first postal code system. And, in pure Irish fashion, they’ll be overcompensating:

It promises to be one of the world's most specific—assigning an individual number to every residence and business.

That is far more precise than in the U.K., where a unique code might encompass more than a dozen homes. In the U.S., a ZIP Code can include an entire town.

This sounds like Zip-Plus 4 on steroids, but I’m sure at some point it’ll be coming our way, too.

The Irish, in pure Irish fashion, are not 100% enthused about the new system.

…It's intrusive, they say. And they worry it could affect property values. It's secretly designed to make it easier to collect taxes, others allege. Some Irish citizens just want their snail mail to stay slow.

"The bloody post codes…don't start with me on those," said Grainne Kenny, 76, of Dún Laoghaire, a town southeast of Dublin. "They're a necessary evil, maybe, but I think Ireland is losing its charm. We're a small country."

Can't find the right house? "Stop somebody on the road," Ms. Kenny said. "They'll say, 'Over that hill there.' "

"It's absolutely ridiculous," said Paul Davitt, 51, whose address is simply Badger Hill, Ashford, County Wicklow. "No postmen get lost. They all know their own routes. Who's it for?"

But others are giving it a céad míle fáilte. After all, not everyone wants a parade of other Patrick Murphys making “a good read” out of your personal Patrick Murphy mail.

Every once in a while, I get an e-mail for one of the other hundred or so Maureen Rogers in the United States. One was from an Australian landscaper. Even if I had some landscaping beyond the meager front garden I tend, I wouldn’t want to be paying the travel costs of an Aussie landscaper.

But I don’t think I’ve ever gotten snail mail for another Maureen R.

Then again, we have full addresses, and postal codes. Because we’re not, like Grainne Kenny’s Ireland, a small country.

But it’s a small country that’s going to have an ultra-detailed postal code system.

One of the drivers is having a postal system that keeps up with a country that rightfully prides itself on its technology prowess:

"You're portraying yourself as a very modern, fast-moving country," Mr. [former Irish government minister Noel] Dempsey said. "You're way to the forefront in IT, and so on, and you haven't got a post-code system? Embarrassing would be the word I'd use to describe it."

Ireland will, no doubt, continue to deliver mail that lacks a specific address. Apparently, if you send something to “Paul Hewson, Ireland”, it gets delivered to Bono. (My husband once got a letter addressed to “Jim Diggins, Beacon Hill, Boston”.)

Anyway, I just went and googled “Maureen Rogers Ireland” and found the death notice of a namesake, giving the address: Coolaha, Ballymackney, Carrickmacross, Monaghan. What I wouldn’t give to have Coolaha as my address…

May the other Maureen Rogers rest in peace, but who needs a postal code when you have an address like Coolaha?


Rather than tip my scally cap to my sister Kathleen for pointing this article out to me, I googled “Kathleen Rogers Ireland” and found a late, lamented namesake for her, too. Her address?Dernabruck, Cloontia, Ballymote, Sligo

Monday, September 29, 2014

A degree in six degrees with Kevin Bacon

When I was in college, back in the day when a college degree didn’t cost as much as a sprawling house in the burbs, I heard a number of interesting speakers. Most of them weren’t coming to my school – a small, no-name “St. Elsewhere” place – but I was in Boston, which offered plenty of opportunities to hear people speak for little or nothing.

The two that stand out the most were polar opposites: Howard Zinn and Ayn Rand. (For the record, I thought he was great and she was nuts.)

For my graduation, the speaker was Congresswoman Margaret Heckler, who, despite the fact that she was a Republican, was chosen to speak to us 400 “Catholic girls” – 395 the daughters of Democrats – because she was a Catholic woman, her maiden name was O'Shaughnessy, and she was herself a graduate of a Catholic women’s college (though not ours). I don’t imagine that Peggy Heckler was paid more than $500 for her star turn. Then again, she wasn’t exactly a cool, hip, happening celebrity. She was a boring, middle of the road politician.

The University of South Florida apparently has more money – thank you, taxpayers of Florida –to throw at speakers, and a greater desire than Emmanuel College to bring someone to campus who was going to provide entertainment.

And the University of South Florida had no problem throwing $70K Kevin Bacon’s way last April:

…to discuss philanthropy, social engagement and the pastime he inspired: “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.”

“It’s 1994 and I’m just out there minding my own business, making movies and trying to support my family and all of a sudden people start talking to me about this game,” said Bacon, best known for his role as a dancing rebel in the 1984 film “Footloose.”

“It had taken off as this drinking game spreading across campuses, and I thought I was going to be responsible for all this young alcoholism.”

The crowd laughed as Bacon paced in black jeans and a black leather jacket, telling jokes and doing impressions.

And Bacon laughed all the way to the bank. $70K! Talk about bringing home the bacon!

Florida is not the only state frittering away funds to bring on celebrity speechifiers.

UNLV paid Hillary Clinton a whopping $225K to speak there last June. Arguably, Clinton brought more gravitas with her than did Kevin Bacon (three times as much, if you look at the speaker fees). Still, however you do the math, that’s nine students each taking on $25K worth of debt to offset this fee. (Okay, some/all of the money probably comes out of student fees, but let’s assume for a moment that all monies are purely fungible.)

Then there’s California, where state universities have shelled out more than $7.5 million in the last couple of years to hear from Tony Bennett ($110K) and William Shatner ($75K).

William Shatner? Beam me down and give me anyone within six degrees of separation of Kevin Bacon.

Schools in Florida paid Ron Paul $65K, Larry King $63.2K, and Sarah Silverman $50K. Apolo Ohno made $55K for speaking at a SUNY school.

Such fees “highlight the misdirection that besets our universities,” said David Neidorf, president of Deep Springs College, in Big Pine, California. The school’s 26 students do manual labor on a cattle ranch in the desert, while reading the likes of Shakespeare and Karl Marx.

“Five-figure speaking fees for anyone, let alone celebrities, are an embarrassment to anyone who cares about the moral and intellectual life of universities,” he said in an e-mail.

Manual labor on a desert cattle ranch?  (And, I looked at their web site: no smoking near hay bales.)

I have a couple of nieces who are seniors in high school, and I don’t think either one of them will be applying to Deep Springs, thank you. But I completely agree with David Neidorf.

Many of the big buck speakers are placed through speakers bureaus, which skim a significant percentage off the fee. So it’s no surprise that such agencies would defend the practice:

“It does change lives to see real people on a stage,” said Theo Moll, vice president of the college and university division at Keppler Speakers Bureau in Arlington, Virginia. “There’s also a lot of value in bringing prestige to the university.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Yes, it no doubt does change lives to see real people on a stage.

I suspect that, for everyone at Ford Hall Forum who thought Ayn Rand was a nutter, there was someone who thought she was on to something (and a great writer). And while most of those who saw Howard Zinn – speaking for free at BU, as I recall – probably decided to become more political, a few in the audience were probably driven into the arms (and wooden prose) of Ayn Rand.

But, sorry, seeing Kevin Bacon or William Shatner is probably not going to change anyone’s life.

I’m sure I’m being an anti-celeb snob here.

I actually think it’s okay that the University of Southern Florida paid Jane Goodall $60K a few weeks back.

But Kevin Bacon?

Come on!

At least it wasn’t someone from the cast of Real Houswives of Miami, I suppose.

Here’s an idea for a speaker-related learning experience.

Have the students line up a headlining speaker, but don’t let them fully pay for it out of student funds. Have them sell tickets to make up the difference.

This could sharpen a lot of skills: reading the market, negotiating, marketing, sales…

At South Florida, Bacon talked about his charity, sixdegrees.org, which seeks to connect celebrities with other small charities to spread awareness of social issues. Speaking without prepared remarks, he covered topics including his wedding anniversary, the birth of his children, the power of social media and his movie career.

As celebrities go, I actually don’t mind Kevin Bacon. He’s a decent actor, not all that glittery, and seems to be socially conscious.

But is he really worth $60K for a canned speech?

It’s one thing for corporations to do this.

I worked for a company that paid Jack Welch a quarter of a million to flog his book at a client event. And, as I recall, Jack insisted that we hire Charlie Rose (to the tune of $75K) to interview him. This turned out to be a colossal waste of money, but we were just screwing our shareholders.

But to think that kids are paying thousands in student fees and/or taxpayers are subsidizing public universities so that students get a “free” ticket to see William Shatner. Well, it’s enough to make Ayn Rand’s skin crawl.

Friday, September 26, 2014

T.G.I.F. (Pink Slip scrounges up a last minute post.)

The unthinkable has happened.

Pink Slip, which always has enough posts stockpiled for at least a day or two ahead, has skated out onto thin ice that finds me sitting here at 11:14 p.m. on a Thursday with nothing to post for Friday. Which would break a pretty long and mostly unbroken streak of daily posting.

Oh, the horror.

I have some excuses.

  • A client who asked me to help out with an extensive editing job on a piece written by a fellow-freelancer who, I can only imagine, will not be doing much more fellow-freelancing for that particular client. (I punched the clock on that one at 11:13 p.m.)
  • Combing through my slush pile of topics that I’ve begun noodling around with – and may well fully get to so day – and finding myself meh, meh, mehing one after the next. (Meh.)
  • Ending up the first anniversary of the glorious week I spent with my husband in NYC last fall. Our last trip together… And a glorious one it was, with Jim, even while in the midst of what turned out to be the last chemo gasp, with enough energy to take long walks every day, explore new restaurants, and even introduce me to a place in The City that I’d never been to: Gracie Mansion. A week or so after he got home, up popped the met to his brain. Our last trip together…And a glorious one it was. But one that makes me so damned sad when I think about it. So this week I spent a bit of time letting myself feel sad, listening to soppy music, staring off into space, just plain missing Diggy…

Thus, in the long dark night of the blogging soul, Pink Slip got nada, zilch, zippo.

Other than this litany of headlines – ripped from today’s online news – that might have made for a post. If I’d had the willingness to do one.

Haspel's New Take on Seersucker Is Tailor-Made for Fall. (Bloomberg/Business Week)

Sorry, no. Unless you’re in the tropics, seersucker, like straw hats, linen, and white shoes, should only be worn between Memorial Day and Labor Day. And if you don’t believe me, go ask Brooks Brothers.

Twin Peaks: 'Hooters Just Wasn't Racy Enough' (Bloomberg/Business Week)

Well, seersucker might not make the cut. (After all, it’s after Labor Day.) But a post on a restaurant chain that strives to outdo Hooters. Coming up shortly. (Never having heard of the Twin Peaks chain, I clicked on this one just to see what the connection was being Twin Peaks the TV show and Hooters. It’s tough living in a blue state that doesn’t have a ton of breastaurants. There are things we just can not know.)

Polaroid Goes After GoPro With a $99 Action Camera (Bloomberg/Business Week)

I didn’t even know Polaroid was still in business? Or did I? I’ll have to look back through the Pink Slip archives.

Apple Rebuts Charges of Bending iPhones (WSJ Online)

Bend me, shape me, anyway you want me, but I remain unbending in my commitment to keep saying ‘no’ to the iPhone. Seeing last Saturday’s colossal line outside the Apple Store on Boylston Street did nothing to budge me here. (Let’s see what I end up doing when my trusty Blackberry bites the digital dust.)

Misdirected script text from Walmart drove guilt-ridden killer to drive across US and confess to woman's 1997 cold-case murder (Daily Mail – UK.)

Huh? I say, huh, huh?

12 Seriously Underrated Perks Of Being Single (Huffington Post)

I don’t think I’m quite ready to go there yet. All I can think of are two: more closet space, less trash. Other than that…

A couple of months before Jim died, but when we knew he didn’t have long, my wonderful friend Marie and I were talking and she said, “Just think of all the times you were sitting there wishing that you had the house to yourself. And now…” We shared a melancholy laugh – the kind that I think that only 50-year friends can. Fast forward a few months after Jim’s death, and Marie was gone as well. What a rotten two-fer this has been.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m actually someone who likes being by herself. (Good thing.) I’m not afraid of being alone, of going places by myself, or sitting here in the quiet. Still, the joys of being single remain, at least at this juncture, seriously overrated.

Now, post accomplished!

It’s nearing midnight.

Gotta get into bed with a good book.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Gag me with a spoonful of creamed corn. (And turn up your nose at turnip, while you’re at it.)

There was a fun piece over on the Huffington Post in which Yagana Shah listicle’d 13 childhood foods that her fans nominated as the ones they would never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever eat in adult life.

I was sure in agreement with some of them.

Creamed corn? That would be right up (down?) there on my list of must avoids. You really want to put something on your kid’s plate that already has the look and feel of vomit and expect them to eat up without producing the real deal?

But how did creamed spinach not make the veggie list?

Creamed spinach was not quite as terrible in at least one respect (color) as creamed corn, yet, for a child who didn’t like spinach to begin with, it was just plain yuck.

And perhaps none of the nominating committee was ever forced to eat a waxed bean from my grandmother’s garden.

Other than the fact that wax is tastier and easier to swallow, I actually thought they were made out of wax.

The only way to get one of these babies down was to pool enough milk in your mouth to float one down your gullet.

My final veggie nominee would have been turnip.

Not that we were ever forced to eat it as children. Even my mother, an ardent believer that you should (and would) eat whatever she put in front of you, never tried to force turnip on us. To this day, I dislike turnip intensely. Maybe it’s the smell… As we used to chant on the occasions when my mother did make turnip (New England boiled dinner night?), which I suppose she and my father ate: “Turn up your nose at turnip.”

Words to live by, my friends. Words to live by.

(All this said, I have two perfectly rational cousins who actually like turnip. They are the only people I know under the age of 85 who do so.)

The other item on the list that I’m 100% in agreement with was liver and onions.

I think my mother force-fed us this dish once or twice a year, perhaps when we were looking a bit peaked, as if we were suffering from iron-poor blood. Or maybe she and my father had, on occasion, the urge to relive the Depression.

The comparatively delicious and easy-to-eat Spam and Jello were both on the yuck list.

No, I would not eat Spam on a bet at this point in my life, but as a kid I liked it. Since my father had spent 4 years in the Navy, we weren’t allowed to have it when he was around. But when he was away, we clamored for it. Very nice served up with home fries.

And while I could take or leave Jello, I did like it as a kid, as kind of an emergency dessert when my mother didn’t have the chance to bake.

Some of the items on Yagana’s list I just flat out disagree with.

Fish sticks, for one.

This was a foodstuff that I rather liked. My mother always served it with a big tossed salad, and I liked when the Ken’s Italian dressing ran off the salad and onto the fish sticks.

Sure, the smell was a bit disgusting, and the taste a bit fishy, but I did like Fish Stick Fridays.

And Kraft Dinner? Yes, you did have to overlook the “radioactive orange” color, but if you got beyond that…

We never had canned ravioli as kids, but we did have Franco-American Spaghetti for an occasional lunch.

Franco bore no resemblance whatsoever to “real” spaghetti, it was just mushy and bland, but I liked it well enough. It was not anywhere near as good as my mother’s spaghetti. For a German girl married to an Irishman, she made an excellent spaghetti sauce.

I can’t imagine opening a can of Franco nowadays, but – perhaps because I was deprived of it as a kid – I have been know to enjoy a single-serving Chef Boyardee ravioli, which is fine, as long as you put the idea of real ravioli out of your mind.

Tuna noodle casserole? Pot pies?

What’s not to like? As long as it wasn’t one of those times when your mother was cheaping out and got the lousy brand that only had upper crust, and used nasty bits of dark meat chicken or turkey, rather than tasty white chunks.

What didn’t make the list that I can still get the old gag reflex going on, although it’s probably been 50 years since I had it put in front of me?

Creamed chipped beef.

Served with creamed corn, this would certainly make a fine dining combo.

But my father liked it, so my mother made it on occasion. (He also liked finnan haddie and milk toast, but my mother never made us eat either of those delectables. What were the here-and-no-further standards being exercised Chez Rogers, in that mostly we had to eat the yucky stuff (c.f., creamed chipped beef), but occasionally we didn’t (c.f., finnan haddie).

As a child, I would only eat an egg that was fried as hard as leather. If there were any sign of runny yolk, I nearly went into cardiac arrest. Today, if someone put a fried egg in front of me that was cooked so hard there was no runniness to it, I’d take a pass. (One time, my mother served me an egg with some offending runny yolkiness. I showed her! I had a rather large baby doll with broken eye sockets, so that when you tilted its head and the eyes rolled, they left an open gap. Easy enough to stuff that egg in there when Mom’s back was turned.)

Anyway, one of the best parts about being a grown up is having pretty much total say over what you eat. The exception, of course, is when you eat at someone else’s home. But it’s hard to imagine anyone inviting you to dinner and serving liver and creamed corn, isn’t it? (Turnip loving relatives be warned!)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

If only I had Photoshop, who knows where my business might go

Last week, I came across an article about a lawyer in California who’s likely to lose her license for six months because her web site had all sorts of pictures of her chumming around with famous people. Pictures that weren’t exactly for real. One step up from having someone snap a shot of you with your arm draped around a cardboard Fathead cutout, but phony baloney nonetheless.

I looked through the gallery of Very Important People on Svitlana Sangary’s publicity page. Many of them, I didn’t recognize. But there she is, tête-à-tête, with Bill Clinton. Hillary Clinton. Joe Biden. Al Gore. Barack Obama. And, from the other side of the aisle, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Donald Trump.

Non-political celebs aplenty: Morgan Freeman. Dr. Phil. Anne Hathaway. Leo diCaprio. Pierce Brosnan. James Gandolfini. Ellen DeGeneres. Warren Beatty. Alec Baldwin.

While I certainly have no problem with someone wearing the same outfit in so many of the pictures. Who among us doesn’t double up on the fancy outfits?  But really canny viewers, even if they don’t quite know who the celebrity is, might have noticed that the face, hair, angle, and outfit is exactly the same in a couple of the pictures.

celebrity onecelebrity two

Well, why let a good head shot go to waste, but you might not want to show them side-by-side.

Personally, I wouldn’t select an attorney based on whether they’d had their picture taken with John Stewart or one of the Kardashians. And Svitlana Sangary doesn’t exactly say that she knows these folks. But rules is rules, and the California State Bar recognized that the images were photoshopped, and considered it deceptive advertising.

Although the State Bar Court’s decision is awaiting approval from the California Supreme Court, the recommendation from State Bar Court Judge Donald Miles condemns attorney Svitlana Sangary’s “demonstrated lack of insight and her contemptuous conduct during these proceedings.”
In addition to concluding that she violated the Bar’s rules on deceptive advertising, Miles also notes that Sangary generally refused to cooperate with the investigation, according to the Recorder.

Miles also criticized the attorney’s “failure to remove the deceptive images from her website, even after the State Bar brought this issue to her attention.” (Source: Washington Post.)

Sangary sent the Bar a response in which she cited Natalie Portman’s winning an Oscar for Black Swan, even though her head was superimposed on a real ballerina’s body. Sangary also noted that she “recently received an email from President Obama, with the subject line ‘I need your help today’, asking SVITLANA SANGARY for an additional donation.”

I’ll have to keep all those e-mails from Elizabeth Warren that I’ve been getting…

All in all, it sounds like Sangary is a bit loosely wrapped. Maybe it’s because they’re both originally from the USSR, she reminds me quite a bit of Orly Taitz, the birther movement queen.

In describing her work on her own website, Sangary writes:

The Law Offices of Svitlana E. Sangary has developed a deserved reputation for utilizing the strategy and tactics of handling the case in to advance  the Clients’ success by delivering smart, aggressive, and creative representation, achieving victorious solutions, accomplishing Clients’ goals, and oftentimes even exceeding Clients’ expectations.

I have no doubt that she provided “creative representation.”

Her clients seem to return the favor.

On a scale of 1 to 10, Svitlana Sangary deserves to get a 15!
Ludmila Privorotsky

There are no famous names on the testimonial list, by the way, so it wasn’t as if she Larry King proclaiming her a 15 – make that a 15!

No, her reviewers are everyday folks like Mandy Tanny, Bogdan Polunets, and Semen (sic) Zikner. (Non-legal, free advice to Semen (sic) Zikner: you might want to consider changing that first name of yours. Have you thought about calling yourself Sam?)

But the whole thing gets me thinking about who I’d want to appear with, if I ever decide to set up a web site and include a publicity page. Of course, I already have my starter picture. That’s me – in real life - with Hall Pudge and Moeof Famer and Red Sox great Carlton Fisk. Not that I’d pretend for a moment that he endorses my skills as a marketer. But he probably could speak to my devotion as a lifer Red Sox fan, able to spot one of the old boys 25 years of so after he hung up his spikes.

But if I wanted to add to my rogues gallery, who would I Photoshop myself with?

They’re mighty cute, but what good would Pierce Brosnan or George Clooney do for my business?

Oh, well, if I do decide to Photoshop myself into a bunch of celebrity pictures, at least I’ll know better than to use the same head shot multiple times.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Glockenspiel Redux

There’s nothing I like better than reading about a family feud.

It’s not that my own personal family is one blissful, life-long love fest, but all of us, across the boards, seem to have inherited the get-along gene. It no doubt helps that there’s never been all that much to get riled up over, dollar-wise, which seems to be the root of so much family feuding.

Not that money is always present where extreme family dysfunction is found. I have a friend who has a particularly feuding branch in her family tree. This one family – which had 10 kids – was led by a matriarch who, at any given point in time, was only speaking to half of her kids and grandkids. (The original “issue” that set all this off was incredibly trivial.) All the side-taking and shifting alliances dictated who got invited to weddings and who would show up for wakes.  Auntie M was so nasty that, on her death-bed, she forbid the currently favored children to let the unfavored half of her brood know that she had died. Her attitude: let them read it in the obituaries. Fortunately, a couple of the chosen few broke ranks and let their sibs know that their mother had passed on to the Great Snitfest in the Sky.

But this attitude has trickled down to my friend’s generation. She recently attended the wake of her cousin, one of the 10 “kids” in this family. There, she ran into another cousin – the deceased’s brother – who had, in fact, read about his sister’s death in the newspaper. In the online notice, most of this woman’s siblings went unmentioned.

So it doesn’t necessarily have to be about the money.

In fact, although at first glance it appears to be about the money, the ongoing saga of the Glock family feud shows that sometimes, it’s about the business, it’s about the job.

It is, of course, difficult to separate out what’s money and what’s job, as they tend to go hand-in-hand. And we all know that enough, except for very rare individuals, is never enough.

But in this case, it seems that Frau Glock and the three Glock kinder are mostly ticked off because they’ve been shut out of the family business that they’ve all devoted their lives to.

Okay. I’m ignoring cherchez la femme for a moment. There is, in fact, another woman involved – wife number two, a woman young enough to be Gaston Glock’s granddaughter. But mostly, I’m going with: this is about the business, this is about the jobs.

From the outset, Helga Glock played an instrumental role in turning the Glock family business, helping transform a modest curtain rod manufacturing company to one of the best known, and most lucrative, gun slingers in the world.

Gaston and Helga married in 1962, just as they launched the family business. Brigitte arrived soon after. Gaston Jr. was born in 1965, and a year later, Robert. While raising the children in Deutsch-Wagram, outside Vienna, Helga also handled invoices, tax records, and wire transfers…

From the beginning, Helga says, Glock was a collaborative enterprise. By the late 1960s she had three children, a full-time job with the family metal shop in suburban Vienna, and a husband who expected hot lunch and dinner served every day. “I still ask myself how I managed this,” she says. In the company’s early stages, she and Gaston Sr. manufactured curtain rods and other house fittings. Her husband assured her that one day they’d be rich, and on that promise, at least, he kept his word. (Source: Business Week)

Well, at some point in there, a light bulb went off and the Glocks figured out there was more to be made in fire arms than curtain rods, and that light bulb going off made the collective day for the Glock family.

Then Gaston Glock had a near death experience, decided he wanted to spend the remainder of his life with the woman he loved – the one who was 50 years younger than he – and went ahead and reorganized the company. Well, what’s a reorganization without a few senior heads rolling, and the heads that rolled at Glock were those of Helga, and the Glocks three offspring. None had ever held a job outside of the family biz. All along the way, they were assured by their parents that someday, the business would be theirs.

The severance package was pretty good. No one week’s pay for every year worked, or any such nonsense. They were all set for life.

Set financially, but, hey, if you’re used to getting up and going to work at the same place since you could crawl, well, you might find yourself missing going to work at a place that you considered your life’s work.

The children never considered careers other than the family trade. Brigitte had joined in 1983 after graduating with a business degree from a technical school. She helped Helga with administrative work. In the next years, Gaston Jr. carved out a specialty in information technology, Robert in sales and marketing. Gaston Jr. ruefully recites “the famous quote from my father: ‘You don’t need to go to university. Come to work for me, and you will learn the most.’ ”

Gaston, Sr. sure wasn’t kidding. This probably was an environment where Gaston, Jr. would “learn the most.” About human nature, trophy wives, and getting screwed.

As so often happens when folks are laid off, the Glock children have changed careers. While they and their mother try to resolve the legal issues that are playing out, they’ve found something else to do with their time. (Helga is not going down without a fight, that’s for sure.) Brigitte owns a pet store. Gaston Jr. runs an online high-end hunting clothes company; Robert runs a couple of restaurants.

But, alas, it’s not the family gun works.

Aww, shoot.


Here’s my original post on the Glocks.

Monday, September 22, 2014


While my bucket list contains a couple of places I’d like to visit, I have to confess that – thanks to my narrow Euro- and U.S. centric focus – I’ve pretty much been to most of the places I consider “must see.”

No, I haven’t been to Venice. And I do need to check off Portugal at some point so that I can complete my full, Western Europe sweep. In these United States, I need to get to Alaska, North Dakota, Kentucky and Tennessee in order to complete the nifty fifty before I kick. (I may lower my standards and say I’ve been to Kentucky because that’s where the Cincinnati airport is, and I have been to Cincinnati. And I once had a layover in Memphis…)

Sure, I’d like to get to Australia and New Zealand at some point. Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam. If I could get dropped in to India for a couple of hours to see the Taj Mahal, and if I could get dropped into China for a couple of hours to see the Great Wall, I’d like to go.

Buenos Aires? I’m sure it’s muy bueno.

And, yes, I would likely enjoy a luxury safari to Kenya or South Africa or wherever the safest safaris take place.

But if I’m crying on my death-bed, it won’t be because I never saw Mt. Fuji or Mt. Kilimanjaro or Machu Pichu.

Personally, see Pittsburgh and die is more up my travel alley.

I guess you might say that the travel bug that bit me was decidedly parochial and limited.

And while there are plenty of places that would be nice-to-haves out there, I also have a list of MUST NOTS.

North Korea ranks right up near the top of that list.

Okay, if I were absolutely forced to take a trip, and the choices were Sudan, Syria and North Korea, I’d be brushing up on how many variants of kimchi exist.

But I really have no desire at all to see for myself what a totalitarian, spectacularly repressive, art-less (in every meaningful sense) country being run by a third-generation personality cult regime looks like. (“Oh, the mountains are beautiful. The children are adorable. The streets are clean.”)

And yet there are those who, for whatever reason that I cannot fathom, actually want to go there.

One of them was Matthew Miller, a young Californian who traveled to North Korea and, once there “ripped up his visa so he could go to prison and expose human rights violations”, and who a few weeks ago was “sentenced to six years of hard labor.” I suspect that what the North Koreans call “hard labor” is just that. Nothing as namby-pamby as stamping out license plates (not needed in North Korea to begin with, since so few people are car owners) or manning retail call centers (not needed in North Korea to begin with, since so few people have any discretionary money and there’s nothing to buy, even if they did). (Source of quoted material: CNN.)

Miller is one of three Americans imprisoned in North Korea. Of the other two, one appears to be a naïve but well-intentioned ninny who, having been warned against going to North Korea, left a bible in a public place.  A well-known no-no. The other is a Korean-American evangelist who’s had more serious charges lodged against him.

As for our young friend from Bakersfield:

While traveling, Miller reportedly tore up his visa and declared himself “not a tourist.” The court said he intended to “experience prison life so that he could investigate the human rights situation." (Source: LA Times)

Well, I’m quite sure that the world did not need Matthew Miller to “investigate the human rights situation” in North Korea, which is widely documented and well known.

And yet, whatever the drivers – idealism, naiveté, hubris, egomania, desire for notoriety, mental illness - Matthew Miller’s there, and has now double-dog-dared himself into a six year prison sentence.

Naturally, he is appealing to the government for help:

In his awkward interview with CNN, Miller called on the U.S. government to help him and complained that officials in Washington were not doing enough to assist in his case. “I’ve written a letter to my president with no reply,” he said. “For this reason, I am disappointed in my government.”

By most political standards, I’m a nanny-stater, but, jeez Louise, here’s one nanny stater who’d just as soon let this cry-baby (as long as he’s not shown to be mentally ill) stand there in his crib crying.

I really have a hard time exercising any of my well-flexed sympathy muscle on someone who deliberately goes out of his or her way to put themselves in a dangerous situation, and then expects the government to bail them out. Whether it’s the couple who had to send for the U.S. Navy to rescue their sick one-year old while the family was sailing around the world on the adventure of a lifetime. The young American hikers who wanted to trek off the beaten trail in Iraq/Kurdistan (let’s do go camping in a war zone) and ended up spending a couple of years off the beaten trail in an Iranian prison. And now Matthew Miller. You really think the president is supposed to answer the letter of every jackass who does something dumb while out of the confines of the U.S. of A. and finds himself in trouble?

We’re not talking about journalists, those working on humanitarian efforts in awful places, or even missionaries who get caught up in a rebellion.

We’re talking about someone who went out his way to bite his thumb at the notoriously thin-skinned and harsh North Korean government, and, it would seem, got exactly what he asked for.

Meanwhile, Miller had been on a tour run by a New Jersey outfit called URI, which specializes in trips to North Korea, a country it states has a “unique culture and distinct way of living.”

Well, I guess you might call a dictatorship run by a personality-cult leader “unique”. And I suppose you might say that a country that has demonstrated a continued willingness to allow vast numbers of its citizen to starve to death has a “distinct way of living.”

URI’s web site asks, is it safe? Is it legal?

But it doesn’t ask the one question that anyone considering going to North Korea should be asking: DOES IT MAKE ANY FREAKING SENSE?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Holey Moley (Bring me the head of Fulton Sheen)

If the 20th century was the American Century, then the 1950’s were the American Catholic Decade.

No longer a swarm of unwashed immies, “we” had triumphed: Catholic schools, colleges, hospitals, were everywhere. Edwin O’Connor’s Last Hurrah was a best seller. “We” had given the world Joe McCarthy and Jack Kennedy, and our triumphalism was headed for a peak when “our” guy, JFK, was elected in 1960.

One place where we weren’t so apparent was on TV.

Oh, sure, we knew Ed Sullivan, Perry Como, and Loretta Young were Catholics – who didn’t?– but most of the characters who peopled comedies and dramas were deracinated, generic Protestants. Even when they were so obviously meant to be Catholic. As my father pointed out when we watched The Honeymooners, in real life, Ralph Kramden would have been Timmy O’Brien. Or Jackie Gleason. (Fast forward a couple of decades and why, pray tell, was Archie Bunker’s name not Timmy O’Brien? Or Carroll O’Connor?)

To see Catholics in action on the large or small screen, we had to watch reruns of 1930’s movies in which Jimmy Cagney played the gangster and Pat O’Brien played the priest. Or wait for a Wagon Train episode that had a nun in its story line. Truly, the only Catholics that appeared regularly as charactersUncle Fultie were the bad guys on The Untouchables. (Not that religion was mentioned, but all those Italian names…)

But then – mirabile dictu, mirabile visu – there was Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, appearing weekly in our living rooms to talk about Catholicism.

Why, he even won two Emmys.

Who needed Uncle Miltie when we had Uncle Fultie?

Just how influential was Fulton Sheen?

Forget those two Emmys.

Consider for a moment that Martin Sheen’s real last name is Estevez. Funny to think that Martin Sheen would adopt the name of someone as reactionary as Archbishop Sheen, given that Martin Sheen is a pretty well known lefty…

There was also a boy in my grammar school named Fulton after the good archbishop.

Anyway, Fulton Sheen, who’s been dead for 35 years, is back in the news.

He’s suddenly newsworthy because Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York is in a tug of war over his remains with Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Illinois.

Here’s the story.

Although most of Sheen’s career was spent in The Big City, he was born and ordained in Peoria. Seizing on this connection, the Diocese of Peoria went ahead and built a museum in Sheen’s honor, and has also been out there promoting Sheen’s candidacy for sainthood.

It has [also] drawn up blueprints for an elaborate shrine in its main cathedral to house his tomb and sketched out an entire devotional campus it hopes to complete when its campaign to have him declared the first American-born male saint succeeds. (Source: NY Times)

The problem is that Sheen has already been lodged in a home-away-from-home:

Since his death in 1979, his remains have been sealed in a white marble crypt at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, the city where he spent much of his life. And though the Peoria diocese says it was promised the remains, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, who considers Archbishop Sheen something of a personal hero, has refused to part with them, citing the wishes of the archbishop and his family.

In a seeming snit over Cardinal Dolan’s refusal to give Sheen’s body up, Bishop Jenky backed off the work that Peoria had been doing to support the Sheen sainthood initiative, just at a time when Sheen was on the verge of beatification, the final step before being declared a saint. (If you want to know more about the process, I’m quite sure there’s some YouTube or another out there that’s got Fulton J. Sheen pontificating (archbishop-icating?) on the topic.)

There are precedents for divvying up saintly remains.

St. Catherine of Siena is enshrined in Rome, but her head is revered in a basilica in Siena, Italy. St. Francis Xavier, the 16th-century missionary, is entombed in Goa, India, but his right arm is in Rome, in a reliquary at the Church of the Gesu.

I had not been aware that Catherine of Siena had a revered, severed head, but I am quite familiar with Francis Xavier’s arm. When I was in first grade, it toured the country and came to our church. So my sister Kath and I got to kiss the glass case  containing said arm. (Now, if you think there’s something weird about a religion that has six-year-old kids kissing the mummified arm of a long-dead saint, well, all I can say is go watch Fulton J. Sheen, why don’t you.)

Cardinal Dolan, apparently, is not interested in the type of compromise that would result in letting Peoria have an arm or a leg. Let alone a head.

Cardinal Dolan’s latest offer to Bishop Jenky was that he could have bone fragments and other relics from Archbishop Sheen’s coffin.

This should have yielded enough material to satisfy both Peoria’s desire that they have some remains to venerate, and the sainthood rule that stipulates that:

By canon law, the body should be exhumed and authenticated before beatification, and relics — bone fragments and other physical remains — taken for the purpose of veneration.

But it apparently wasn’t good enough for Peoria, and Cardinal Dolan was not about to let Bishop Jenky get his hands on the full body. Joan Sheen Cunningham, an elderly relative of Fulton Sheen, has speculated on this:

“I think the cardinal was worried that maybe Bishop Jenky would cut off a hand or an arm or something.”

Having visited the cemetery where the bulk of my husband’s ashes are buried on a few occasions, and having now made several trips to spread bits of the remaining ashes around in places and on the graves of people that were special to Jim, I know all about venerating remains. In fact, once I get through Jim’s list, I will be keeping a bit of him – the part that’s getting rocketed into space this October – with me on my mantle.

But holey moley, this haggling over the remains of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen really is the house of weird, isn’t it?

And a tip of my bishop’s mitre to my sister – and fellow Francis Xavier arm venerator – Kathleen for pointing this article out to me. Bless you, my child.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Walmart’s right: you really can’t have your PR guy caught lying on his résumé

How, in this day and age, can there be anyone in any position of seniority at all in an American corporation who somehow thinks that he or she can get away with a résumé fudge?

A little white résumé lie is a double-wham-whammy in terms of risk.

First off, organizations increasingly vet what you’re saying about yourself.

Second, once you’re outed, you’re outed. It’s no longer just some mid-level functionary in Human Resources who knows, and your boss, into whose ear the Human Resources functionary has whispered that one or two of the sweet somethings on your c.v. are actually sweet nothings. Nope, every one with access to the Internet will know, and will, pssst, pass it on, through blogs and tweets.

And once those baying hounds start baying…

Honestly, you’d think that anyone who’s got a smidgeon of a smudge on their résumé would come clean and expunge that smidgeonly smudge before it becomes public, when all of a sudden it’s liar, liar,  résumé on fire.

It should be easy enough, no?

Say, I just noticed that there’s an error on my résumé. Hard to believe but, heh, heh, when I had a résumé service create it for me, they put down that I had a degree from Harvard College, when what I’d actually told them was that I’d taken an Intro to Accounting course at Harvard Extension. Blame it on my terrible handwriting, and piss-poor proofreading abilities. Heh, heh.

Now I know that you didn’t hire me because you thought I had a Harvard degree. So I’d just like make sure you knew that my degree was actually from Excelsior Correspondence Junior College.

Okay, okay.

No one would buy it.

But why not correct your résumé, apply for another job, get out of Dodge, and start your new gig with a clean slate and an honest story line?

Maybe all the folks with the pack o’ lies résumés all came of age before anyone really checked things out, and they’ve just let things sit there (and the lies propagate). And they’re just getting caught now.

There sure have been plenty of lost-the-job, publicly humiliated stories out there that someone would give pause before putting something untrue on paper.

I mean, a bit of inflation and puff-up here and there is fine. But a fake degree (or job or military service/honor) is definitely a no-no.

As David Tovar of  Walmart has learned the hard way.

Tovar, until recently, had been:

…the most public of Wal-Mart Stores’ vast public-relations team. For the past year or so, in addition to responding vigorously to any criticism of the retailer, he’s been sending mass e-mails to journalists with helpful tips about how to report on worker protests, among other more cheery musings. Sample e-mail subject lines include: “Exciting changes,” “American Pride,” “Taco Plate,” and “Hmmm…” (Source: Business Week)

When Tovar announced that he was leaving, inquiring minds in the press wanted to know just why.

What happened was that, in the course of vetting Tovar for promotion to SVP, Walmart found out that he had never quite finished up his degree at the University of Delaware.

By résumé tall tales, his was admittedly a short one.

Tovar was just a couple of credits short and had actually walked at his graduation ceremony. On to this real life, he never bothered to go back and fill in the credit blank.

Still, you really can’t have someone in a high level PR position who’s a proven liar, given that for the most part they’re presumptive liars to begin with.

Especially for a company like Walmart which is involved in such contentious issues, has a checkered reputation in plenty of quarters, and is not especially regarded as a bastion of corporate probity.

Walmart, by the way, didn’t fire Tovar over this issue. They just told him that he wouldn’t be getting that promotion. So he resigned. Nonetheless:

It’s also potentially embarrassing for Walmart that Tovar got caught in a lie. More than anyone else at the company, he has defended Walmart’s wages and working conditions with internal data and forceful assertions. He’s the one who responded to an op-ed in the New York Times about Walmart’s low wages with his own sarcastic fact check, which in turn was submitted to several fact checks by other news organizations and found wanting.

Hey, anyone who could successfully flack for Walmart is not going to be out of work for very long.

Still, if you’re in a position where people are going to assume that, at least some of the time, you’re speaking with forked tongue and fingers crossed, best not to hand anyone the proof that you’re a liar. Even if it’s just a little white lie sort of liar.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

“Four dead in Ohio,” and all I got was this lousy sweatshirt

It must be tough trying to keep up with a market where such primacy is given to edginess.

I mean, you just have to keep out-edginessing yourself.

Which for a hipster brand like Urban Outfitters is some challenging task, given that in the past they’ve brought out products that seem to be glorifying depression and anorexia.

So not only do they have to top those, but they have to put up with the backlash from the boring old prudes out there who are so unedgy that they squawk at anything the least bit edgy. Sure, the no-fun brigade is fine with the hipster fedora, but the minute your fashion statement seems just the tad bit objectionable… They just so go into outrage. (Cue eye-rolling. Cue ‘whatever.’)

Which is what they had to put up with last week after they “introduced” a one of a kind $129 (!) “vintage” Kent State sweatshirt. Because, like, there is just something incredibly hip and “ironic” (in the current usage of the word, which means a combination of eye-roll and ‘whatever’) about a situation in which four kids – all aged 19 or 20 - Kent State on a college campus were shot and killed by the National Guard for protesting the Cambodian incursion (or for being present when the Cambodian incursion was being protested).

Once the hue and outcry began, Urban Outfitters came out with what has to be the phoniest mea culpa ever conceived by a marketing department:

“Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such. The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray. Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset.” (Source: boston.com)

Ah, yes, nothing says vintage charm like blood and bullet holes.

ROFLMAO, as they say. Or used to say. If I’m still using it, this one has had its day.

Meanwhile, if my read is correct, there was only one of these items for sale.

So, from a marketing standpoint, what Urban Outfitters has done is just brilliant.

They’ve managed to consolidate their reputation among those who think that being insensitive, tasteless, and offensive is just the thing, especially if it riles up the oldsters. They’ve gotten a ton of free publicity. And they aren’t stuck with a warehouse full of the heinous item. There may not even be the one. Maybe it’s all photo-shopped.

As someone who well remembers when those kids were killed – which was, by the way, right about the same time that four African-American students at two colleges in the South were gunned down; the Jackson State kids were protesting the Vietnam War, the South Carolina State kids were protesting segregation at a bowling alley – I can only say that I’m appalled by Urban Outfitters. Of course, the old geezers being appalled is exactly what they want.

Maybe next time they pull something like this – and you can pretty much guarantee that their edgy, cynical, soulless marketing folks have already scheduled their next ‘think outside the box’ session – maybe we should just ignore them.


A tip of the decidedly non-hipster, virtual Pink Slip fedora to my sister Trish for spotting this item.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Rah, rah, rah…As if the NFL doesn’t have enough of a problem with women

Well, yesterday I quit the NFL. I hope for good.

But I will nonetheless continue to follow the Billionaire Boys Club and their efforts to convince advertisers and fans that football really is superior to, say, cage boxing and ultimate fighting.

One of those elements of superiority that the NFL will be able to point to, of course, is the existence of cheerleaders to root their heroes on. I’m actually guessing here, but my guess is that cage boxing and ultimate fighting don’t have young women on the sidelines working the pompoms.

But most teams in the NFL do.

It should come as no surprise to careful Pink Slippers that being a cheerleader was never high on my list o’ things to do.

My one foray into this activity occurred in 4th or 5th grade when, with my pals Susan and Bernadette, we decided that we were going to cheer on one of the local Little League teams – lucky them – the one, of course, that had the boys we had crushes on. Or was it a collective crush on one boy? I’ve forgotten the full details, but I believe the team was Abdow Scrap Iron, and the colors of the crepe paper swishies we made were navy and white. Other girls in our class were going to do the honors for National Standard. (Red and white crepe paper swishies.)

We practiced a few times, and showed up for a game and cheered for an inning or so.

I’m sure we were dreadful; I know I was embarrassed.

I was probably out a quarter for the crepe paper for the swishies, but lesson learned: I was not cut out to be a cheerleader.

When I was in college, I girl in my class was a cheerleader for the Patriots. This was before cheerleaders were required to be leggy, toothy, and big-hair-y. My classmate was a perfectly pleasant looking girl, but most of what she had going for her was her pep and enthusiasm.

At our all-women’s college, there was little outlet for either, so she went off to cheer for the Pats.

We weren’t friends, and I have no idea how long she kept it up for.

Perky, peppy Peggy would probably not make any of the professional football cheerleading squads these days. Just not the type. And I like to think that she’d be too smart to put  in a 20+ hour workweek, for which she got paid little or nothing, for a professional sports team raking in millions of dollars a year.

I’ll have to guess what would motivate someone to become a cheerleader for a professional football team.

I’m guessing that they’re dancers and/or fitness instructors and, even if they get paid zilch or near-zilch to shake boobs and booty, they do it for the exercise or the fun or the camaraderie. Or to use in promotional materials for their dance studios or fitness centers.

I’m guessing that some dream of meeting the man of their dreams. First choice, a high-paid glamor boy like Tom Brady. Second choice, a billionaire owner seeking a trophy wife. Third choice, someone on the practice squad. Fourth choice, a creepy old season’s ticket holder.

Maybe they just like football.

Or, maybe, in the words of Buffalo restaurateur Russell Salvatore, who at one point sponsored the Buffalo Bills cheering squad, the Buffalo Jills:

“They did it from the good of their heart.” (Source: Businsessweek.com)

While Salvatore (of Russell’s Steak, Chops & More fame) backed the Jills, the cheerleaders didn’t get paid.  (“They never asked me for pay.”) There were, however, some side benefits. Sort of.

He did write them a song, set to the tune of Volare, to use when they took the field. (“Go Jills, go Buffalo, go Jills, we love you so / You make the game day so bright / Your cheers are sure dynamite.”) The cheerleaders opted not to use it.

While sometimes they’ve earned a little coin, for the most part, Jills just don’t get paid. They sign a contract stating that they’ll show up for practices, games, and mandatory appearances at charity events and the like. And, when there was no sponsor around to back them, they had to pay for their own uniforms. (Other sponsors over the years include the Mighty Taco, which paid the cheerleaders nothing for practice of games, but did fork over “$25 an hour for off-field appearances—only after a cheerleader made 16 unpaid appearances each year.”)

After a year as a volunteer, one Jill, Caitlin Ferrari, decided she’d had enough. Then, after a couple of years of thinking about it, she:

…filed a class action against the Bills for wage theft.

She has company. Other Jills are also heading to court.  As are cheerleaders from the Oakland Raiders, Cincinnati Bengals New York Jets, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In all, 13 current and former NFL cheerleaders in five cities have filed pay cases. In every one, the cheerleaders are claiming that teams violated minimum wage laws.

As the plaintiffs pile on, fans are learning that the most powerful sports league in the U.S., with $9.7 billion in annual revenue, pays its sideline performers worse than the average birthday clown or barista.

The NFL says its up to the teams, and earlier this month, the Raiders tentatively settled, agreeing “to pay $1.25 million in lost wages to cheerleaders who worked for the team over the last four seasons.”

Historically, the Jills seem to have had the least to cheer about when it came to how they were treated.

Among other things, they had to buy 50 team swimsuit calendars. Plus:

Jills also bought and sold tickets—four per cheerleader at $125 each—to an annual golf fundraiser for the squad where, according to the group suit, they sat in dunk tanks, auctioned themselves off to ride on men’s laps in golf carts, and did gymnastic “flips for tips” that were kept by their employers [whatever group was sponsoring them].

The Bills, having outsourced their cheerleading services to team sponsors, knows nothing, etc..

“The Bills organization retains a number of third party vendors to provide ancillary services on game days. These services include, among others, parking services, concessionaire services and cheerleading services.… We are aware of public statements and allegations that have surfaced since the start of the recent litigation which attempt to give the impression that our organization employs cheerleaders. Such statements are inaccurate and misleading.”

While all this is being resolved, the Bills are Jill-less.

The NFL teams can, of course, well afford to pay their cheerleaders at least minimum wage for their services. (Which, in Atlanta this year include visits to the boxes of well-healed season’s ticket holders. Old goat duty must be really fun!) But once you’ve done something for free, it’s kind of hard to go back and cry foul. These weren’t kids or illegal immigrants being exploited. They’re grown women who, if they didn’t know what they were getting into Season One, sure had an inkling by Season Two.

So why go back for more?

Personally, I believe that cheerleaders should get paid. Just like hot dog vendors, parking lot attendants, and ticket-takers do. It’s completely disgusting that, given the wealth of the league and its constituent teams, that they are paid nothing, or a pittance, especially when you add up all those extra-added requirements (e.g., sitting in the lap of the creep in the golf cart).

But if someone’s willing to do this for little or nothing, well…

Is the word “ninny” still in use?

Anyway, the bottom line with the NFL is always the bottom line. But you’d think given all the bad news about treatment of women that has been showing up of late, exploiting the women who dance around and prance around for the fans wouldn’t be an issue they’d want to add into the mix.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Hub fan bids NFL adieu

The fall Sunday afternoons of my childhood were spent watching NFL games with my father.

While baseball was his (and, thus, my) first sports love, my dad also enjoyed football  - a sport which, like baseball, he had played.

We watched the NY Giants – then still called the New York Football Giants, although the baseball version had already fled to the West Coast – playing in Yankee Stadium, and wearing uniforms that were always described as “Honolulu Blue.”

The AFL was just getting started, and the league – and their local entry, the Patriots – was considered something of a joke. Even the TV station that broadcast them was a wannabe: Channel 6 from New Bedford, a low-wattage outfit that showed mostly a snowy, jittery screen.

So we were Giants fans: Frank Gifford, Andy Robustelli, Dick Lynch, Y.A. Tittle, Rosie Grier, Rosie Brown, Phil “Chief” King, Kyle Rote, Charlie Conerly…

By watching football at my father’s side  - he watched and appreciated sports with an athlete’s eye – I learned about the game, and learned to enjoy it.

But somewhere along the way, I lost interest.

I might have watched a few games during high school, but don’t recall watching many games beyond that.

Super Bowl?

Never heard of it.

And the more I thought about professional football, the less I liked it.

Too violence-glorifying, too flag-waving, too militaristic.

No thanks.

While I remained a sports fan – Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics - I went decades without paying much attention to professional football.

And then the Patriots got good.

And my husband and I found ourselves turning on the games on Sunday afternoons.

I watched my first Super Bowl in 2002, the year the Patriots, led by Tom Brady, won.

Our collective  -  Jim’s plus mine - interest in football waxed and waned with the fortunes of the Pats. Jim loved basketball, so I watched a lot of Celtics; I’m a Red Sox lifer, so he watched a lot of baseball.

But in the last couple of year’s of Jim’s life, when getting out and about got a a bit more difficult, we started watching a lot of NFL games.

Sunday afternoon. Sunday night. Monday night. Thursday night.

Half the time, there was a game on. And we watched it.

Still, there was always something unsettling about it.

All that violence, the martial music, the pumped up testosterone, the conflating of sports with patriotism, the grotesque adulation of athletes, the grotesque amounts of money floating around, the grotesque tobacco-industry-like posture towards brain injuries, the grotesque exploitation of college athletes in the NFL’s plantation-style minor league. All that violence.

Somewhere along the line, it occurred to me that football was the veal of sports.

If you thought about where veal came from, you wouldn’t eat it.

And if you thought about what professional football was all about, you wouldn’t watch it.

At least I wouldn’t.

So I didn’t think about it.

And Jim and I watched a lot of football last season, right on up to the Super Bowl.

Well, my father, who was my first football watching buddy, died in 1971. And my husband, who was my second football watching buddy, died last winter.

Meanwhile, the NFL just keeps going from bad boy to worse boy.

Nonetheless, as we neared opening day, I was thinking about getting back into the football-watching swing, if only to remind me of something that my husband and I enjoyed doing together.

But with so much free time these days to think about the NFL, I’ve decided to quit.

I’m quitting because, in the world the NFL operates in, smoking a doobie is a worse offense than cold-cocking your girlfriend – that is until the video’s released.

I’m quitting because, if someone’s a talented athlete, teams turn a blind eye toward whatever they do in the outside world – until they get caught, at which point there’s a wrist slap. That is, until the media starts to howl.

I’m quitting because NFL star Ray Rice decked his fiancée, and NFL star Ben Roethlisberger sexually assaulted a young woman, and NFL star Aaron Hernandez likely killed three men because he felt disrespected.

I’m quitting because:

The National Football League, which for years disputed evidence that its players had a high rate of severe brain damage, has stated in federal court documents that it expects nearly a third of retired players to develop long-term cognitive problems and that the conditions are likely to emerge at “notably younger ages” than in the general population. (Source: NY Times)

I’m writing this on a Sunday.

The Patriots are playing the Vikings,whose star running back was just arrested for over-zealously disciplining  (translation: beating) his 4-year old son.

And I’m not watching the Pats vs. the Vikes.

Because I quit.

Not that the Krafts, who own the Pats, or Roger Goodell, who runs the NFL, could give a crap.

I don’t own any player shirts. I don’t wear a cap. I don’t go to any games in person. I don’t “play” fantasy football. I don’t drink beer.

They won’t miss me at all.

When I was a kid, my father listened to the Friday Night Fights on the radio. I sometimes listened with him.

Boxing used to be a big deal sport in this country.

Now, not so much.

Maybe the NFL will go the same way. Hard to imagine that parents are going to encourage their kids to play a sport that will give them a well-above average chance of becoming brain damaged.

But there’s an awful lot of money at stake here – billions and billions – so I’m sure the brain trusts at the NFL are figuring out how to “manage” their violence problem, while juggling it all against the trade-offs around the game’s visceral appeal as a macho, gladiator, violence-glorifying blood sport.

Whatever they end up doing, they’ll be doing it without me.

Maybe I’ll be tempted back in if the Pats end up in the Super Bowl. But for now, I’m off the game and, as far as I’m concerned, the game’s off.

Nice Sunday afternoon out there, by the way.

I’m going for a walk.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Who Do You Think You Are?

I am a complete sucker for the TV show Who Do You Think You Are, in which ancestry.com pulls out all the genealogical stops to find something interesting in the ancestry of some celeb.

I mean, who doesn’t want to learn that Valerie Bertinelli is descended from British royalty? That Sarah Jessica Parker stems from a Salem witch? And that some celeb I’ve never heard of had a philandering murderer for his great-great-grandfather?

When it comes to my ancestry, I suspect that even ancestry.com wouldn’t find anything very interesting in the archives: farmer, farmer, peasant farmer…

Supposedly, my great-grandfather, Matthew Trainor, was a hedge-row teacher in County Louth, in Ireland, before he hopped on the boat for Amerikay.

Other than that, it’s pretty much farmer, farmer, peasant farmer…

But you never know what you might find when you start looking under the ancestry.rug.

So a few weeks ago, I spit in the cup and sent my DNA packing off to ancestry.com for DNA analysis.

As I am about as white-bread as you can get – half German, half-Irish, fair skin, blue eyes, light brown hair that started out blond – I wasn’t expecting anything very exotic. Still, I always wondered just whether my father – with his jet black hair, olive skin, and fabulous ability to tan-don’t-burn – had a wee drop of color in there somewhere. So I was kind of hoping to find out that I have some African ancestry.

But, no.

What I did find was that I’m 99% European stock, 1% Asian. And not just any old Asian: Mongol horde, all those “stan” country Asian. (Would I top Valerie Bertinelli if I found that my 20 times great grandfather was Genghis Khan?)

Where’s the rest of me from?


If you can’t quite read this screen shot, I’m 42% Western European, 38% Irish, 12% British, 4% Italian-Greek, 1% Iberian, 1% Scandinavian, and less than 1% Finnish/Russian.

The easiest way to interpret this is that my Irish father is responsible for the 38% Irish and 12% British, and my German mother the Western Europe, Asian, and mutt-mix.

With the last name of Rogers, I have always wondered whether one of Cromwell’s soldiers met a nice Irish girl in County Roscommon and decided that settling down with a colleen was a better idea than rampaging through the countryside killing Catholics. On the other hand, family lore has it that Rogers was an Anglicized version of McCrory/McGrory/McSomething.

At some point, I’ll have to hit the wayback machine and figure this one out.

And speaking of out, a probability range is attached to each ethnic bite, and the one attached to my being 12% Great Britain is 0 –33%.

So, with apologies to the wonderful folks from England, I’m going to cry Brits out, and get rid of that British heritage until I get proof positive that I actually am a proper Englishwoman. To the hounds! (I can just hear Nanny, my Irish grandmother, if someone suggested that her family was part-British. She would completely have fobbed it off on the Rogers, not the Trainors. And while the name Rogers, with its whiff of Brit, might suggest that she’d be right, her family was from the East Coast of Ireland, just across the pond from Great Britain. What’s to say that some English lad, out for a sail, didn’t run into a storm and get washed up on the shore near Dundalk…)

Anyway, the British blood doesn’t explain my father’s man-tan. That has to come from the 4% Italian-Greek connection, or the 1% Iberian peninsula route.

Of course, those numbers also have the same probability of zero at the lower end of the range. The only ethnic groups that I have a non-zero probability of being part of are Western Europe (which includes my ancestral home turf of Germany), where the probability range is 16 – 66%, and Ireland, where it’s 22-55%.

Thus, I can say with pretty much 100% confidence that I am Irish and Western European.

Which is not exactly the shock of the century.

Still, I was hoping for something a bit less Aryan Nation. That African I thought might show up. Some Polynesian. A bit of  European Jewish. American Indian. (Well, since I’m from relatively recent immigrant stock, having some native American blood would really have surprised me.)

Anyway, I’m hoping that in a few years, all this ethnic estimation is more refined, and can ferret even more info out.

Meine mutter, the German, had reddish-brown hair, green eyes, and exceedingly pale frecklish skin. Somewhere along the line, she’d heard that the neck of the woods where her ancestors hailed from (near Stuttgart) was populated by Celts.

Who knows?

Meanwhile, I will have to start brushing up on my Italian and my Greek.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

An almost perfect little urban experience…

One of the things that I cherish most about being a city-dweller, and a city-dweller in this particular city, at my particular address, is being able to walk to the ballpark. So, for the half dozen or so games I see during any given season, I take shanks mare.

The walk to Fenway from my home is an especially pleasant one.

I generally cut through the Public Garden, beautiful any time of year, but especially when the Swan Boats are in the lagoon, and the flowers are at their resplendent best. From there, I walk up The Mall, the tree-canopied allée that runs down the middle of Comn Ave (Commonwealth Avenue to outsiders) from the Public Garden on out to the Fens. Lovely, lovely, lovely. Cool (or at least a bit cooler than pounding the pavement) – via natural air conditioning – when it’s sweltering, and dry when there’s a light rain.

The allée ends, and your back to city streets, but, as you near the ballpark, a bit before Kenmore Square, things really start livening up. The baseball crowd becomes evident, and even when the Olde Towne Team is wretched, as happens to be the case this year, there’s always a bit of pre-game excitement, aided an abetted by those hawking programs (Two dollahs  hee-ah, five bucks inside; a bah-gin!) or scalping tickets.

The walk takes about a half-hour and then at the end you are, quite wonderfully, at Fenway Park and ready to watch a game.

Play ball!

Late Tuesday afternoon, even though I had just attended a game on Sunday with my sister Trish, niece Molly, and friend Michele – and, yes, we walked both ways – I felt the urge to once again take me out to the ball game.

Alas, the tickets that I’d seen on Stub Hub for $7.50 the day before – talk about a bah-gin – had been scooped up.

There were plenty of tickets available on the Red Sox site, but even this late in the pre-game – it was now about 6 p.m., and the game would be starting a bit after 7 p.m. – they were going to lard $7.50 in convenience fees or handling or whatever they call the surcharge for ordering on line onto a $20 ticket (lower bleachers) for the night’s game.

It being a pleasant enough evening for a walk, I decided to do something I haven’t done in years – maybe decades, even – and that is walk up to the ticket window on game day and buy my ticket in the here and now.

What with the Red Sox already E-for-Eliminated from contention, and fielding as they are a bunch of prospects, has-beens, and wannabes, I figured my chances were pretty good that I would score a ticket, even if the Red Sox are barely able to score a run.

(As we used to say in Worcester back in the day, this team stinks out loud.)

Anyway, there was line of twenty or so folks ahead of me in the ticket line, and I was easily able to get my singleton for the lower bleachers.

For a team that stinks out loud, the Red Sox are still drawing a pretty good crowd, and there weren’t a ton of empty seats. (I just checked, and the attendance is given as 37,008 out of a capacity of 37,400. I have my doubts, but it was a good crowd.)

I’m sure that some folks wanted to see a good team play – that would be the Baltimore Orioles, who should be clinching the Eastern Division title any day now. Maybe some just like baseball. And maybe some just like having the experience, absent in Boston for much of the past decade-plus, or just deciding spur of the moment to take in a game.IMG-20140909-00280

Anyway, because the Red Sox are such a sorry-arsed bunch, the team is apparently resorting to the sorts of gimmicks that I associate with the minor leagues and/or with franchises that can’t manage to draw good attendance.

So Tuesday night was bobble-head night, with each lucky attendee handed a Pedro Martinez bobble-head.

Now I completely adore Petey – all if forgiven for the ‘the Yankees are my daddy’ statement - and if I were a Hall of Fame voter, he’d get my vote.

But Martinez hasn’t played with the Sox since 2004 – yes, that 2004 – and, while he does have some post or other with the team, I’ve got to believe that we got the bobble-heads because some marketing assistant was rummaging around in what must be a massive swag closet and discovered 37,008 Pedro bobble-heads covered in dust.

Well, I’ve got mine.

The Red Sox being the Red Sox, and 2014 being 2014 (and decidedly not 2004 or 20013), the game was pretty much a bust.

But the seat I had was fine, the sausage sandwich tasty, and the organist even played a riff from Thunder Road.

Plus, former Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk was there  – who, let’s face it, is practically my boyfriend – so, as they always do when #27 is in the house, they showed his highlight reel and played Like a Rock, followed by a shot of Fisk waving to the crowd  - he was actually waving to me – from the swank seats.

The young couple sitting next to me – twenty-something nouveau fans – barely knew who he was. Probably not surprising, since Fisk’s heyday was 40 years ago, well before they were born. I suppose it would be like someone sitting next to me as a game when I was a kid and asking what I knew about Smokey Joe Wood or Tris Speaker. The young guy in the couple did know enough to associate Fisk with the scene in which Our Hero waves a ball fair, hitting a crucial home run in the 1975 World Series. (Not crucial enough that the Red Sox won that Series, of course. They didn’t.)

I stayed through to the bottom of the 8th, long enough to sing Sweet Caroline and watch Big Papi whiff for the second (or was it the third) time.

It was getting late, and I wanted to enjoy that walk home.

As it was getting late, I took Newbury Street (lit and commercial) vs. Comm Ave (dark, residential and arboreal) back home.

Not very crowded – 11-ish on a Tuesday in September – but lively enough.

Fortunately, Emack and Bolio’s was still open, so I was able to get me some ice cream. (Caramel with peanut butter cup: yummy.)

Other than the Red Sox losing – that and coming back to an empty house – it was as near a perfect little urban experience as I’ve had in a long while.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

And today’s orange jump suit goes to Mathew Martoma.

Yet another Wall Street fraudster will soon to be kitted out with a decidedly non-bespoke orange jump suit.

The felon of the week this time around is Mathew Martoma, who was a portfolio manager at SAC Capital Advisors, and will be doing nine years for, depending on the way you interpret things:

a) insider trading
b) refusing to roll on Steve Cohen, who the Feds are really after
c) cheating his way out of Harvard Law and into Stanford Business
d) a and b, but not c
e) a and c, but not b
f) b and c, but not a
g) all of the above

This is, admittedly, an awfully multiple multiple choice, but I’m going to go with “all of the above.”

Martoma, 40, convicted of making $275 million for SAC by using illegal tips to trade in Elan Corp. and Wyeth LLC, had rejected government offers of leniency in exchange for his cooperation in the probe of Cohen and his Stamford, Connecticut-based hedge fund. (Source: Bloomberg.)

Ah, Elan.

Many years ago, my husband made some money on this stock.

I don’t remember how he dug them up, but I do remember that they were headquartered in Ireland, and that on a couple of trips to the Old Sod we passed by and Elan building.

Of course, Jim didn’t make any $275 million on his trades.

Then again, Jim wasn’t trading on insider info that revealed that the clinical trials on a promising Alzheimer drug were showing disappointing results, insider info that let SAC drop its Elan holdings before the trial results went public and the stock price dogged. (SAC had revved up its holdings to begin with on the basis of leaked info that Martoma was getting that the trials were going well.)

Martoma is the seventh SAC-er to be convicted of insider trading.

This is a Magnificent Seven, but I’m sure the Feds would just as soon have nabbed SAC founder Steve Cohen, the big kahuna they were really after.

Martoma, who is married with three young children, asked for less prison time, arguing that he isn’t as blameworthy as other recent insider-trading defendants, including Raj Rajaratnam, who’s serving an 11-year sentence in a medical prison in Massachusetts.

Love that “other guy” excuse. And, it looks like it worked, as Martoma got “only” nine years, vs. Rajaratnam’s eleven.

Richard Strassberg, Martoma’s lawyer, told Gardephe that a prison term of two to three years would be appropriate. Martoma submitted 140 letters from supporters urging the judge to be lenient.

Martoma has already been substantially punished, Strassberg said. He lost his career and has been financially ruined, the lawyer said.

God, I hate to quote bad 1970’s TV shows like Baretta, but “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”

Not that figuring out what’s insider trading vs. what’s doing your homework isn’t a tricky and ill-defined business, but this Martoma seems like bad news.

In fact, in setting the length of the prison sentence, the judge was asked to take Martoma’s earlier dishonesty into consideration:

They told the judge that Martoma’s 1999 expulsion from Harvard Law School for creating a forged transcript “speaks volumes” about his character. Martoma sent the forgery to 23 federal appeals court judges with his application for clerkships.

In general, getting expelled by Harvard does not increase the likelihood of being accepted by Stanford. But a couple of years after Martoma got the hook from Harvard Law, he managed to weasel his way into Stanford Business School.

This was, of course, back in the day before admissions folks did a lot of background checking on candidates, but accepted it on face value if you failed to disclose, say, that you’d ever been at Harvard Law, let alone that they’d booted you out for changing all those “B’s” to “A’s”.

There’s more (of course):

After Harvard kicked him out, Martoma, who at the time was known as Ajai Mathew Thomas, legally changed his name to Mathew Martoma in 2001, the same year he arrived on Stanford's campus. (Sourc: John Byrne on Linkedin Pulse.)

Interesting about the name change.

Martoma’s apparently not the only one.

Sure, Steven Cohen is still Steven Cohen, but good old SAC Capital is now calling itself Point72 Asset Management.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Sue the faulty software-producing bastards!

A few weeks ago, I saw an article on boston.com on a group of recent law school grads who are using their new skills to sue ExamSoft Worldwide. Among ExamSoft’s products is bar exam software that students in 43 states must use if they want to take the exam using their personal computer, rather than doing things the stodgy, old-fashioned, but slightly more technology-proof method: paper and a mitt-ful of freshly sharpened, bright yellow Dixon Ticonderoga Number 2’s.

It seems that the majority of those taking the bar exam prefer to use their PC, even though it costs $125-150 vs. Dixon Ticonderoga Number 2, which is free.

I really have no idea what the setting for the bar exam is, but I gather from what I’ve read that students go to a center in their state where the exam is administered, and, if they have ExamSoft installed, they can download the exam questions and fill in the answers digitally.

Apparently, they put there answers in, but don’t do the uploading at the center where they take the test. They have until midnight of test day to get home and upload in the privacy and technical splendor of their own home.

I don’t really get the taking it home part, but I guess I’ll just have to assume that you can’t alter your answers once the time is up and you’re asked to put your Dixon Ticonderoga Number 2 down. Which would be metaphorically speaking, for today’s tech savvy students. Maybe they’re asked to raise their hands, step away from the keyboard, unplug and remove the battery, shut their lid…

Maybe the reason that they have to go home and do their uploading on their own bandwidth is that the system just can’t handle 50,000 would-be barristers simultaneously uploading their answers. Or the individual test centers just don’t have the bandwidth.

But this July, a lot of those who’d elected to take the exam electronically found that they couldn’t get their answers to upload. And as the midnight deadline approached, these would-be barristers had visions of failing the bar – no upload = zero on that portion of the test – and ending up as baristas instead.

All this stress after three years of being pounded in class by Professor Kingsfield knock-offs, spending a few months beating your head against a bar review course, and borrowing $200k to finance law school in hopes that you’ll at least be able to pull off a couple of gigs as an hourly wage court appointed attorney.

Oh, the humanity.

ExamSoft has said that the problem wasn’t one of scale. Their product could, in fact, handle all the potential lawyers. It was a matter of some changes they’d made to the product. Their VP of marketing, Ken Knotts, sounded downright insouciant when addressing the issue:

….‘‘Unfortunately, (recent) upgrades, made in an attempt to improve the exam taker experience, played a role in the post-exam processing delay that some bar exam takers experienced on July 29, despite system field performance review and ongoing monitoring.’’ (Source: boston.com)

Ah, the old blame-it-on-the-customer routine. After all, if those exam takers hadn’t been looking for an improved experience, none of this bad stuff would have happened.

Knotts said in a statement that the company is not aware of any student who missed his or her deadline. ‘‘We absolutely sympathize with the bar applicants who experienced a delay, and we again offer our sincere apologies.’’

Well, hell hath no fury like a law school grad whose electronic answer sheet has been scorned.

Catherine Boohoo Booher is one such law school grad:

‘‘They knew that this was happening and we’re already so unbelievably stressed out as it is,’’ Booher said. ‘‘They’re not getting punished, they’re not apologizing for adding to our mental anguish.

‘‘Had they just come out and said, ‘Oh, my God, we are so sorry’ and refunded my money, maybe it would have been different.’’

ExamSoft is pretty much taking a “no harm/no foul” stance, so let the mental anguish class action suits begin!

I see this as just another one of those glitches - some large, some small – that we can expect to find more and more of as we become more and more dependent on living by, with, for, and on technology.

A few years ago, I was in a store and there was a systems failure of some source. The clerks were freaking out because they had to compute the sales tax by hand. You’d have thought that they were being asked to figure out how to get an out-of-orbit spacecraft back to earth with a slide rule.

What’s going to happen if there’s some sort of crise de GPS, and we have to read a map? Will there be anyone left on earth who remembers how they work?

And god help me if I actually need to remember anyone’s phone number. I think the only ones I still know by heart are my dead mother’s, my dead aunt’s, and my dead grandmother’s.

Perhaps because my career has been in technology, I have quite a refined understanding on how it can fail us. All the testing in the world, and something that you didn’t anticipate can still happen.

Way too many folks, however, have such blind faith in technology that they expect it will all work “six nines”, i.e., that everything will work 99.9999% of the time. And when it doesn’t, they can’t handle it.

I’m sure it was the no fun zone for those taking the bar who had problems uploading their exams. Nerve wracking, for sure.

But see you in court?

Shouldn’t they at least wait and see if there were actually any damages?

Monday, September 08, 2014

Dedicated follower of fashion. (I’m feelin’ so groovy now.)

“Sixties Fashion Returns”.

What Boomer could ignore that headline.

Of course, I knew right off the Birkin bag that they weren’t talking about what I was wearing in the sixties.

No, we’re talking about the other sixties entirely:

Its icons, from Jane Birkin to Catherine Deneuve, Ms. [Edie] Sedgwick to post-Camelot Jacqueline Onassis, are near-constant references for women who love fashion. Type "Jane Birkin" into Pinterest and marvel at the treasure trove of worshipful pins that unfurls on your screen. (Source: WSJ Online.)

Me, I didn’t have to type “Jane Birkin” into Pinterest, but I did need to Google her.

Sure, I figured that she had something to do with the Birkin bag, which I would definitely have one of if I were the type who had $40K to spend on a pocketbook. I was right about the bag – Jane Birkin inspired it - but, according to Wikipedia:

She is perhaps best known for her relationship with Serge Gainsbourg in the 1970s.

The Serge Gainsbourg. Well, that explains it.

Anyway, I guess we’re mostly talking being tall and slender, having great hair, never being  seen without sunglasses, and sporting about in expensive casual pants with an expensive casual shirt tied at the waist.

Hey, take away the tall, the slender, the great hair, the expensive pants and shirt, and I could icon it up with the best of them.

I will admit that some of the retro-look clothing coming back looked familiar, even if the price tags weren’t.

Who didn’t have an A-line coat? A pea jacket?

Okay, my A-line coats were a Kelly green boucle wool with frog buttons, and my pea-coat was from Mickey Finn’s Surplus – or was it Spag’s?

Still, I was younger, taller, thinner, and blonder then, and I suppose from some angles I looked like Catherine Deneuve on an off-day. BN-EK598_sixtie_G_20140905130221

While I was never into leather, I had plenty of friends with leather skirts, pants, and jackets. And that striped sweate? True confession: I still have shirts that look like that. (Thank you, Leon Leonwood Bean!)

As for the pocketbook. That looks kind of like a powder-smelling, snap-tight Mom purse to me. But I am delighted to think that sensible shoes are making a comeback, just in time to save those nit-wit twenty- and thirty-somethings who’ve been bringing on the bunions with their Manolo’s for the last decade or two.

Mostly, however, my sixties looked a bit different.

Admittedly, this was because from 1960-1967, I was mostly wearing a hunter green serge jumper and white blouse.

But on my off days, let’s see.

Much of my “civilian” clothing was made by my mother. It always looked stylin’ in the pattern catalog, but by the time I selected the hideous fabric I was typically drawn to, and my mother sewed it up so that it would be modest (i.e., at least two sizes too large), it looked really crappy.

Overall, here’s my sixties fashion run-down:

Shirtwaist or A-line dresses.

Madras shorts, skirts, and shirts.

Khaki A-line skirts, worn with pinstripe shirts.

Ski pants – very popular in early high school, an a pre-cursor of the black leggings movement of the eighties.

Sweaters. Sweaters. And more sweaters. (Some things don’t change. I remain a sweater girl.)

Denim shorts. Wheat jeans.

Anything with a Villager, Lady Bug, or John Meyer label that I could find for next to nothing – and stamped IRREGULAR – in Filene’s Basement.

The hideous knock-off Villager suit from Anderson-Little that I wore when I needed to play grown-up while in high school. Light green, worn with a white poor-boy sweater. And sensible shoes. Probably Weejuns.

Mini-skirts and min-dresses, for sure, barely covering my butt once I got to college and they had no control over what I was wearing.

Of course, by the time I got to college, most of what I was wearing was bell-bottom jeans, turtle-necks, work-boots, Army shirts, and that Mickey Finn’s (or Spag’s) pea coat.

I did get a navy blue dress (A-line, of course) – and sensible shoes – for my father’s funeral.

But, alas, I was never a style icon.

The style icons in my high school were the rich girls – you know, the ones whose fathers owned funeral parlors - not the scholarship girls. They drove Mustangs, wore Papagallo shoes – in lots of different colors, carried Bermuda bags.

In college, my roommate and best friend actually was a style icon. She still is, and next time we talk, I’ll be asking her about the sixties fashions she would have seen at Fashion Week – NYC, Paris, Milan, she hits them all, as her highly successful career has been in the fashion biz.

What a pair we must have made…

Anyway, I suspect that what’s coming up will not be for me:

This fall, Gucci designer Frida Giannini recast the British dolly-bird look with an Italian eye for luxury and a refreshed millennial color palette. Think a double-breasted mint-green angora martingale coat over sky-blue leather pegged pants and matching python Chelsea boots.

For one thing, I have never favored mint green, and had not realized that it was part of the refreshed millennial color palette. And I am sorrowfully – or mercifully – too long in the tooth and thick in the waist to don sky-blue leather pegged pants.

Ah, the sixties.

"It's the best fashion decade," said Barbara Atkin, fashion director at Canadian department store Holt Renfrew. "When we head into the '60s, everyone gets excited because there's a huge ROI [return on investment]. The trendy pieces become blue-chip investments in a way."

If only I’d hung on to that A-line coat…